Caddyshack, the class war comedy about golf and gophers, is over four decades old.
Mixing newcomers like Chevy Chase and Bill Murray with veterans Rodney Dangerfield and Ted Knight, it became one of the best-loved laugh-fests of all time! Let’s take a slice, as we hit the bunker and dig through some juicy behind-the-scenes info…
Bill Murray’s brother got the movie greenlit
Bill Murray gave an attention-grabbing performance as groundskeeper Carl Spackler. But his connection to Caddyshack goes deeper than fooling around on camera.
Comedian and co-writer Brian Doyle-Murray – Bill’s older brother – was the creative force behind Caddyshack. The story and characters were inspired by their brother Ed’s time at Indian Hill Club in Winnetka, Illinois. Brian and Bill and joined Ed, who passed away last year, when he worked at the club.
Doyle-Murray successfully pitched the concept to Orion Pictures with director Harold Ramis and the team.
The movie made its Marx
It comes as no surprise to learn the makers of Caddyshack took some tips on goofball fun from the Marx Brothers.
As Mental Floss writes, Dangerfield’s Al Czervik was a Groucho type. Meanwhile, Murray’s Spackler and Chase’s Ty Webb are Harpo and Chico, respectively.
Caddyshack’s wildest character wasn’t part of the action at all until the last minute. That pesky gopher, who gave Bill Murray such a hard time, came from the workshop of John Dykstra (Star Wars).
Speaking to the American Film Institute in 2009, Ramis referred to the furry fiend as an “amazing opportunity.” He added: “We had so much Bill Murray material, we thought ‘Well, let’s give him his antagonist.’”
Bill’s bad behavior
When not trying to blow up the golf course, Bill Murray was knocking people’s socks off as Carl Spackler. This over-the-top attitude was reportedly mirrored by Murray offscreen. He didn’t pick up any dynamite but Murray certainly shook up the place, according to Michael O’ Keefe (Danny Noonan).
Interviewed by Yahoo, he said the star was less than punctual when morning came around. O’Keefe mentioned that Murray was once “out late partying and woke up in a trailer park 100 miles from the film location.”
It’s the only time Chevy Chase and Bill Murray shot a movie together
Make the most of Caddyshack, because you won’t find another flick where Chase and Murray share celluloid.
They did meet on the small screen, courtesy of Saturday Night Live. And in a notorious 1978 incident, the pair exchanged blows rather than funnies. Chase was doing a guest host spot and Murray confronted him.
Why? Chase reportedly wasn’t liked on set. Biography mentions Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad’s Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live. Murray “zeroed in on Chase’s well-known marital discord.”
Chase “noted that Murray’s pock-marked face looked like a landing spot for Neil Armstrong.” John Belushi found himself breaking up the scrap, which happened backstage as the cameras fired up.
Chase and Murray are now friends. And who knows, maybe they’ve played a few rounds of golf together.
The team worked hard and played hard
Caddyshack was as much fun to make as it is to watch. The cast enjoyed themselves. In fact, they enjoyed themselves a little too much. Aside from the more restrained figure of Ted Knight, the team had some good times.
Michael O’ Keefe is keen to point out they were pros and got the job done. Still, we’d wager a hangover or two might’ve been involved. And it wasn’t just alcohol doing the rounds…
O’Keefe admits to Caddyshackers using white lines during the shoot. He isn’t talking about lines of golf balls, by the way!
The star was Michael O’ Keefe
Originally, Caddyshack was going to focus on O’Keefe’s Danny Noonan, pictured right. However, that plan went out the window, as Ramis’s substance-fuelled production created some all-time classic sequences.
Bill Murray’s monologue about working as the Dalai Lama’s caddy – improvised by Murray – is just one of the golf-based gems.
Attention may have been taken away from the young star but he did alright out of the deal. His later roles included Fred in 1990s sitcom Roseanne. Homeland fans will recognize him as Season 4’s boozy station chief John Redmond from Season 4.
It wasn’t an ace with critics
Caddyshack split audiences’ sides but it didn’t cut the mustard with critics. As time passed, their feelings changed. The consensus today is that Caddyshack plays a good game.
They made a sequel
Something that didn’t age well – and wasn’t even appreciated at the time! – was 1988’s sequel Caddyshack II. Harold Ramis returned on script duty. And this time his Ghostbusters pal Dan Aykroyd joined the fun. Only Chevy Chase appeared from the first film. Jackie Mason starred.
While the gopher was featured (voiced by Transformers icon Frank Welker!), it seems Carl Spackler waited in the wings to pounce. Or rather, Bill Murray took legal action, accusing them of using his ideas.
Meanwhile, Rodney Dangerfield was sued by Warner Bros. because he wouldn’t sign up. The original movie established Dangerfield’s big-screen career. Ramis came aboard because at the time the legendary comic was interested.
More from us: Hey, These Facts About Rodney Dangerfield Are Alright
Caddyshack II swung low at the box office, making a little over half its budget back.